Home => Newsletters => March 18, 2009 • Family Meals Focus #35 • Toddler feeding: The toddler who ''can't get filled up''
March 18, 2009
FAMILY MEALS FOCUS #35
Interpreting the news and research about feeding and eating�
If all goes well, a toddler�s aggressiveness and negative behavior around food can push parents to correct their feeding errors.
Twelve-month-old Lena�s first word was ''hungry.'' By the time she was 15 months old, she sang a little song all day long, ''hungry,'' ''hungry,'' ''hungry.'' Ever since she was born, Lena�s weight plotted above 95th percentile, and she loved to eat. Lena�s parents were the target of constant comments about her size and eating from family, friends, and even strangers. Thinking that being big and loving to eat meant she would be fat for life, Lena�s parents didn�t let her eat as much as she wanted. That seemed to work all right when she couldn�t crawl, walk, or talk, but now she was relentless about food, singing her song, sneaking into the cupboard and refrigerator, and having tantrums about wanting more food at meal- and snack-time. Lena�s obsession with food was a wakeup call for her parents. They had seen that behavior in other children, and they didn�t want that for Lena.
When Lena�s parents read
Child of Mine
division of responsibility in feeding
was an epiphany. After a couple of weeks of doing their jobs with
and letting Lena do hers with
(even though she ate a lot), Lena�s eating began to settle down. She stopped singing her song, she stopped panhandling, she stopped eating quite as much, and best of all, she was happy. She smiled and laughed and she played by herself rather than continually hanging around them, begging for food.
Often, you have to do something differently in order to realize the error of your ways. Lena�s parents realized that from the
they had been trying to control her eating and that it had made her afraid she wouldn�t get enough to eat. It was such a relief to them to just relax and enjoy her. They found that not worrying about Lena�s
made them aware of what a wonderful little girl she is.
It was heartbreaking for Lena�s parents to realize what they had done to her�and to themselves. But we all make mistakes, and their taking responsibility for their mistakes was most important of all. They owned up to the fact that what they were doing was making their daughter miserable, and they changed their ways.
To review the feeding dynamics approach to managing child weight issues, see
Your Child�s Weight: Helping Without Harming
. Remember, it�s not over until it�s over. Most large children slim down as they get older.� Even if they don�t slim down, supporting a child in growing consistently at a high level is just fine. As Lena�s parents discovered, trying to restrict a child�s weight by making her go hungry is simply unthinkable. Moreover, it doesn�t work. Restricting a child�s food intake is likely to make her fatter rather than thinner.
Copyright � 2009 by Ellyn Satter. Published at www.EllynSatter.com.
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DISCLAIMER: The information contained in Family Meals Focus is intended to inform our readers about issues relating to feeding dynamics in general and family meals in particular. It is not intended to replace specific advice from a health care professional. Copyright 2008 Ellyn Satter
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Copyright © 2012 by Ellyn Satter. Published at www.EllynSatter.com.
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